Sunday, August 23, 2009

PS 10/09: IFLA 1.5

Filed under: #ifla2009, debate, IFLA, library 2.0 — plinius @ 3:16 pm

wavesThe rising tide of social media has reached the high castle of librarianship.


IFLA’s labyrintine web site has been redesigned – thanks to Bill & Melinda. Not a radical make-over. It still looks rather staid and stately. I miss the comment buttons. Where’s the dialogue?

But progress, nonetheless.

Blogging is IN

People on the inside are beginning to blog – which makes it much easier for newcomers and occasional IFLA visitors to understand what goes on. Stuart Hamilton’s blog is essential – and I am very happy to see the new chair of (the new) Division 4 – Michael Heaney is reporting on events.

Bob McKee from CILIP (UK) has been  blogging for a long time. The link to the blog of Jesus Lau (also on the GB) seems to be broken (help anybody?). The new Norwegian member, Tone Eli Moseid, started blogging this year – and I expect everybody to brush up their Norwegian.

There must be many more – if you read this, and know about a worthy IFLA blog, please comment.

From the Twitter-stream

The waves are not subsiding. Here in Milan, the 2.0 people are complaining loudly – using Twitter, of course – about the lack of free WiFi at the conference site. I support that.

  • catorze Expensive wifi at #ifla2009 = low twittering & blogging
  • PatrickD #IFLA2009 #fail no free WLAN = no or very few Twittering. Sorry folks: If you miss it please complain to IFLA about the low Twitter covering
  • janjos #ifla2009 IFLA Shame! WiFi has to be paid at ridiculous high prices. InoPro’s they call themselves

Read all about it at Twitter – using the (official) hashtag #ifla2009.

A new balance of power

The new media tilt the power balance towards the ordinary user – whether of libraries or conferences. I’m sure the Swedes are taking notes – planning for Göteborg.

The twittering classes expect modern information-oriented organisations to provide the basic infrastructure for spontaneous and horizontal communication and dialogue. For free – it is not that expensive to blanket a limited area – like the city centre of Funchal (Madeira), where you can simply sit down and link up.

The cafes still charge for coffee, though.

The IFLA journal

IFLA has a paper based journal. IFLA asks all conference authors to give IFLA the right to publish their papers. But very few papers are in fact selected.

I do not think that the central IFLA organization should try to publish a scholarly (academic journal – on top of all its other tasks. The journal is directed towards information sharing and overviews:

IFLA Journal is published four times a year. Each issue covers news of current IFLA activities and articles, selected to reflect the variety of the international information profession, ranging from freedom of information, preservation, services to the visually impaired and intellectual property.


If I find an article I like, I must either subscribe to the journal – or pay 20 dollars for a one day access:

You may access this article (from the computer you are currently using) for 1 day for US$20.00.

Both the business and the publication model of the IFLA Journal seem  somewhat dated.  I am accustomed to the use of Wikipedia, flickrCC, Open Educational Resources and Open Access. To me, publishing under a CC licence seems normal for professional and educational materials.

Occasional pockets of payment on the web may survive. But I’m pretty sure the normal flow of informative and educational resources must be free to the end-user.

Payment barriers simply drive the intended users away.

A web-based open access IFLA Journal would not lack for space. It could publish all papers that the editors feel deserve publication. How many years the current print-and-pay model will last,  I do not know.

But these are questions that are now much easier to discuss – due to the arrival of technologies that do not throttle communication.

That’s real progress.




  1. Very well noted.
    Even though there was some talk about 2.0 last year in Quebec, IFLA never was or really knew how to be 2.0. It is true, IFLA 1.5 fells more like it for so many reasons. Thank you so much for talking about this.

    Comment by Claudia S. — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 4:29 am

  2. […] ca Plinius  va prezenta despre IFLA pe blogul lui în limba engleză . Prima însemnare vorbește despre cum IFLA, deși încearcă să fie 2.0,  nu reușește să fie doar 1,5. Plinius […]

    Pingback by Despre IFLA (23 august) pe internet « ProLibro — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 5:51 am

  3. I’m one of the people complaining on Twitter about wifi access at the conference centre :)

    Seems strange that delegates aren’t given a username and password for free as part of the delegate package. Especially as many presenters seem to be talking about promoting free access to knowledge and information…

    But it’s not just about being able to access Twitter to disseminate instantly. Sometimes I like to check out additional information about the speakers, or look up their library website to get a better feel for the type of environment they work in….it’s also an invaluable tool to help encourage networking between delegates.

    Hopefully wifi will be free in Gothenburg in 2010! :)

    Comment by Christine Rooney-Browne — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  4. Hi Claudia!
    Hi Christine!

    Thanks for comments.

    – I’ve talked with several – and the Swedes are watching carefully and taking notes …

    Since the standard lecture format – big halls and large audience- only allows a token minimum of oral interaction (we have two minutes for questions …) – I feel much more happy multitasking.

    The Twitter stream provides an instant picture of events in several places at once. Blogs add substance and reflections.

    More could easily be added. The presenters’ PPT-files are normally put on the conference PCs – and could be immediately published on SlideShare (Northumbria 8 in Florence did that) or Google Docs (presentations).

    The papers themselves are available on the IFLA web – which is excellent, of course. I’d like to see a comment field under each paper as well.

    Real-time comments could also be showed on the session screens (they do it on TV …. – and in some US conferences).

    Let the structure of our communication tools reflect the structure of our values: interaction, dialogue, sharing, democracy.

    As the web becomes ubiquitous, there is little point in using talks to transfer information. We should rather make the info easily available on the web – and use our talking time to present ideas, passions and challenges.

    Comment by plinius — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  5. Great points Plinius! :)

    I agree that being able to access the presentations on Slideshare would be a huge advantage as we could link to them from our blogs sooner rather than later!

    Also, I’m incredibly lucky to be able to attend the IFLA conference thanks to academic funding.

    There are many, especially in Scotland, who cannot afford the delegate fee and are instead following my tweets on Twitter. This helps them to keep up to date with the latest developments from the library community in Milan; from the comfort of their own offices / branch libraries in Scotland. :)

    Comment by Christine Rooney-Browne — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 10:40 am

  6. Right – I see this as “citizen journalism” for the library field.

    Comment by plinius — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  7. Hi Tord,

    Comments and ppts for each article would be great however IFLA has to ask itself not only how much of the spirit of web 2.0 wants to assume but also how much it can afford to.

    It’s for economical reasons that IFLA is not going to Australia next year not the inability to disseminate the knowledge and information in our profession. I really think that the Australian librarians would have given their best (with free wifi and live streaming) for non IFLA participants in 2010. Do you really think that IFLA took this into account when they made the decision to move 2010? I don’t think they did.

    I used Twitter for the ALA this year #ala2009 and it really is a good tool for spreading the information, having good conversations and building up professional network. And in Chicago, even with free wifi, many tweets and ALA taking note of them there were sessions in the conference where the ABC of blogs and social media was discussed. It is a true blessing to have librarians not being ashamed to inquire about things they don’t know.

    Last year at IFLA I remember Patrick Danowski talking about web 2.0 and making sensation showing how libraries are using Flickr… At ALA there were advanced sessions for the librarians 2.0. I don’t remember similar presentation at IFLA though.

    Last year I had a poster about the Romanian librarians and web 2.0 and even though I did received some good comments I also had to explain what a blog is to many, many librarians coming at the posters sessions…

    Web 2.0 is a new way of thinking that challenges the technical skills of many and which, to be effective, needs to change the classical economical and organizational models used. Librarians are still trying to understand what web 2.0 is.

    Can we really expect IFLA to be ahead of the curve in our profession? Is it flexible enough? What do you think?

    Comment by Claudia S. — Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  8. Hi Claudia

    I was delighted to see IFLA’s turnabout on WIFI access. As for 2.0 costing money I’m not sure what’s involved – the tools I use are all free.

    A Norwegian teacher set up an open social network for school teachers early this year – using Ning (free) – and recruited two thousand people in half a year. Comments are all over the place.

    It’s here in Norwegian

    but if you run it through Google translate you’ll get the gist.

    I think the main difficulty is habits rather than technical skills, Librarians need “to change the classical economical and organizational models used.”

    The best time to do that, is probably now.

    You ask “Can we really expect IFLA to be ahead of the curve in our profession?”

    A classical social innovation model distinguishes between innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards – see

    I would want my professional organization – in this case IFLA – to belong to the early rather than the late majority. The earlier, the better,

    Innovation is another word for (deep) learning. Learning takes work and creates change – but libraries and IFLA still strive to get people to learn.

    But can we do that without moving ahead of the curve – leading from behind, so to speak?



    Comment by plinius — Tuesday, August 25, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  9. On affording to be 2.0 I was thinking more in terms of income that IFLA currently gets from fees and by publishing materials. Being more open will surely diminish that income.

    It would be ideal if IFLA could accept innovation more easily and be moving ahead of the curve. My post-communist experience with associations, professionals and even library realities make me skeptical on that regard. Hope I’m wrong.
    In that perspective, I really appreciate the effort that was done to solve the free internet problem this year.

    Comment by Claudia S. — Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @ 4:57 am

  10. I quite agree about income from publications.

    The question comes up again and again with regard to the ISO Standards – which are very expensive – and therefore ineffective vis-a-vis smaller libraries.

    When it comes to journals, it is usually the publisher (Sage, in this case) that skims the profits. Given its stand on OA, IFLA must at least recommend parallell free access to IFLA Journal articles through repositories or similar.

    I share your general view on traditional organizations, but I also see many good people at IFLA working to change IFLA in order to cope with the new knowledge economy and civil society.

    Winds of change and waves of protest do have an impact – though a gradual one, of course. Dreadnoughts changing course ….

    Comment by plinius — Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @ 8:05 am

  11. […] and somewhat bemused updates on Twitter, with a number of #fail tweets from disgruntled tweeps and bloggers who had expected the WIFI to be free; it seems to be free at most of the other conferences we’ve […]

    Pingback by WIFI at IFLA 2009… « The Library of Digress — Friday, August 28, 2009 @ 7:44 am

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